On this day in 539 BCE, King Cyrus the Great of Persia, who unified two separate Iranian kingdoms, marched into the city of Babylon and released the Jews from almost 70 years of exile and made the first Human Rights Declaration. By offering generosity instead of repression, and by favoring local religions, he was able to make his newly conquered subjects into enthusiastic supporters… As a result of Cyrus’ policies, the Jews honored him as a dignified and righteous king. He is the only Gentile to be designated as a messiah, a divinely-appointed king, in the Hebrew bible.
More Good News on this Date:
- Albert Einstein, fled Nazi Germany and moved to the US (1933)
- Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize for her dedication to India’s destitute populations (1979)
- The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty was first commemorated in Paris, and later was officially recognized annually by the UN (1987)
- Mary MacKillop was canonized in Rome, becoming the first Australian saint (2010)
And, on this day in 1915, Arthur Miller, the prolific American playwright and essayist, was born. His 1949 tragedy Death of a Salesman is one of the finest American plays of the 20th century. He wrote his second play as a final attempt, after his first one flopped. If he didn’t succeed, he vowed to find some other line of work. “All My Sons” was performed 328 times in 1947, and won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award and two Tony Awards. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was also married to Marilyn Monroe. He also had a run-in with Congress. After speaking with friend Elia Kazan, a former communist, about his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee, Miller traveled to Salem, Massachusetts to research the witch trials of 1692. Afterward he wrote the script for The Crucible, which likened the situation in Congress to the witch hunt in Salem–and became the most frequently produced of all his plays worldwide. During the 1990s, Miller wrote more new plays and essays on theater and collected many top awards for the arts. He lived until 2005, to the age of 89.